Actions Speak Louder Than Words

I should be working on my Nano novel, as I’m incredibly far behind, but because of the terrible writing in The Host I decided to show a scene where, without knowing anything about the characters, without them telling you how they feel, you can get the emotion of the scene.

 The office was lit with only a desk lamp as the man slumped over the paperwork in front of him.  He rubbed his eyes and looked at the piles of notes in front of him, frowning.  He sighed and continued to pour through the charts and diagrams, writing in the margins.

Footsteps fell lightly on the ground behind him, and a cup of coffee appeared beside him. A pair of arms wrapped around his tense shoulders and he relaxed into the embrace.  He set down his pen and leaned back to rest his head against the woman’s shoulder, a small smile spreading across his face.

105 words.  You know he’s working too hard, she’s probably his wife or girlfriend, and they’ve been around each other for a while and are comfortable with each other.  You know that they love each other, and understand each other.  I didn’t need to have them describing how they feel or what they’re going through, I didn’t have to have them describe the colour of the desk or what shirt he was wearing.  I didn’t have to tell you anything at all about what anything looked like or even describe any emotions.  The story told itself.

I by no means think I’m a great author, I don’t even think I couldn’t improve on that little short there.  But I sure as hell think Stephanie Meyer is a bad author who doesn’t know how to tell a story without the main character telling you what you’re supposed to think is going on.

Are some things hard to write this way?  Obviously!  You can’t get rid of exposition entirely unless you’re writing a very stylized piece or something very short.  Well, I suppose you could, but it would take an incredibly skilled author to pull it off well.  But a lot of the emotion driven scenes should be written with actions speaking for themselves, and The Host just isn’t doing that at all.  Every single page is unnecessary descriptors telling you what to think and how to feel.  Prompts for people who aren’t giving the story enough thought to think and feel about it for themselves.

Anyway that’s my little additional rant for the day.

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